Mission: Imaginable

Steven Boyd Saum, on imagination.

My 5-year-old son is big on rituals. Every morning, over peanut-butter toast with honey (him) and black coffee (me), we share the morn­ing papers. To get a jump on the day, he likes to check in on his favorite columnists—Charles Schulz, Jim Davis, J.P. Toomey, and a few more—who keep him abreast of the goings-on among the Peanuts gang, in Garfield’s house, in Sherman’s lagoon…you get the picture.

Then we scour the pages of a pair of Bay Area dailies for some science stories. More often than not, we come up empty. Of the limited scientific breakfast fare that makes it to our table, astronomy and space exploration are usually a good bet. Ask our boy the name of the largest planet ever discovered and he’s ready with the answer: HAT P-1—which, he reminds you, is light enough to float in a glass of water. More toast, please.

Back on Earth, Easter Monday served up a bonus news feature: Along with reports on a PG&E plug-in hybrid and an op-ed to match, there was a full-page, multicolored feature titled “Wacky ideas to save Earth.” Said ideas include carbon sequestration and bio-engineered photosynthesis. (Having interviewed researchers working on these, I don’t find them particularly wacky, though.) The idea that most sparks our kindergartener’s imagination: a 16-million-strong armada of tiny flying saucers orbiting our planet to create a solar umbrella to reduce heat from the sun.

Imagination is also a quality very present in this issue of SCM—exploring what we talk about when we talk about “sustainability.” Writers have taken on the mean­ing of the S-word in terms of ethics and economics, and in terms of nuts-and-bolts construction—with a little help from some PV cells and bamboo I-beams. When it comes to what is imaginable, and what is sustainable, your mission, should you choose to accept it, might just be laid out between these covers. (Of course, for this online edition, we’re talking metaphoric covers.)
Which, in fact, contain something different—not just in terms of words and ideas, but for the print edition, in terms of the very paper on which they’re printed. For starters, there’s the matte finish. Along with that, we’ve managed to move to paper that contains 30 percent post-consumer waste. In the print edition you might also have noticed the green logo in the column to the right. That would be the mark of the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies the forest from which the paper comes and the paper manufacturer, through to the plant where this magazine is printed. Teaming with companies that commit to FSC certification is a way of supporting social and environmental standards. Something imaginable. And, as this magazine shows, quite possible.

Keep the faith,

Steven Boyd Saum

Steven Boyd Saum
Managing Editor

This Summer Girls Ran the World

Swift Clara, the Bey Hive, honorary mayorships, and more: This summer, fanbases of mainly women helped rebound the U.S. economy.

A Billion for Tomorrow

A billion in support of scholarships, research, and facilities. Find out what it all means

Super Bloom!

What happens after the rains fall can be glorious.


Play—whether via imagination or with perspective—never stops being important to a person’s development.